Edited clip gives false impression Nigerian politician divulged his earnings

Nigeria is suffering an economic crisis as soaring prices have left many struggling to afford food while the minimum wage remains unchanged. A recent post claimed to show a lawmaker disclosing his monthly salary and expense claims. However, the post is misleading: the original clip shows the politician reciting allegations made about his earnings on a blog. The first part of the video was omitted, changing the context to make it seem like he had disclosed his income. 

“Is this a joke or for real????” reads the caption on an Instagram post published on June 19, 2024.

Screenshot of the post showing the altered video, taken June 27, 2024

Liked more than 28,600 times, the post shows a man wearing Nigeria’s Agbada dress in a setting that looks like Nigeria’s House of Representatives disclosing his monthly earnings as a member. 

“I, a member of this house, collect a basic salary of 2.5 (million) naira per month. Furniture allowance, 7.5 million naira; newspaper allowance, 1.2 million naira per month; wardrobe allowance, 621,000 naira per month; recess allowance, 248,000 naira per month; accommodation allowance, 4.9 million naira per month; utility allowance, 828,000 naira per month; personal assistance allowance, 621,000 naira per month,” the man says. 

The figures equate to 18.4m naira, or around $12,000 at the current US dollar exchange rate.

“This is what lawmakers earn as salary in Nigeria,” reads a line at the top of the video.

While many users seemed to believe the claim, others indicated that elements may be missing. “The most important aspect of this video has been cut off from the beginning,” reads one of the dissenting posts. 

Several other accounts on X ( here and here) and TikTok (here) shared the same claim.

However, the video does not show a Nigerian politician revealing his monthly earnings.

Nigeria economic woes

Africa's most populous country is facing its worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, with double-digit inflation leaving many Nigerians struggling to afford food.

Earlier in June, Nigerian labour unions declared an indefinite strike — suspended almost 48 hours later — over calls for a new minimum wage and a reduction in electricity tariffs (archived here).

The Bola Tinubu-led federal government has refused to increase its minimum monthly wage offer beyond 60,000 naira ($45). At the moment, workers receive a minimum wage of about $20 each month while the labour unions are haggling for an increase to 494,000 naira.

Since coming to office a year ago, Tinubu has ended a fuel subsidy and currency controls, leading to a tripling of petrol prices and a spike in living costs as the naira has slid against the US dollar.

According to the latest consumer price index (CPI) report released on June 15, 2024, the nation’s National Bureau of Statistics said the inflation rate in the country rose to 33.95 percent in May, as the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge (archived here).

Edited video

Using the InVID-WeVerify tool, we extracted keyframes from the clip and conducted reverse image searches.

The result led to the original video posted on YouTube on June 17, 2024, showing Leke Abejide, a lawmaker representing the Yagba federal constituency of Nigeria’s north-central Kogi state (archived here).

In the 12’45” long video, Leke starts his speech by drawing the attention of his colleagues to a social media post accusing him of earning an outrageously high monthly salary and allowances. 

In the first 12 seconds, he says “One Adeola Fayehun, who alleged on social media and Instagram that …”.

This opening remark was cropped out of the viral video, which only began at 0’13”, giving the misleading impression Leke had started by saying “I, a member of this house, collect a basic salary of 2.5 (million) naira per month …”

As a result of the omission, the context of the original video was lost.

Abejide dismissed the claim on Facebook, saying the video of him was doctored (archived here).

“A video is being peddled on social media by mischievous individuals, the video was distorted to suit the purpose of fake news merchants in their bid to get engagements, views and gain followers on the Internet,” he wrote. 

Adeola Fayehun, who levelled the accusations at Leke, is a US-based Nigerian journalist and satirist who uses her platform to discuss political, economic and social issues affecting Africans (archived here).

Lawmaker earnings

Nigeria operates a bi-cameral legislature made up of two independent chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives (archived here).

Available information from Nigeria’s Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) website showed that the earnings of lawmakers in the two chambers vary monthly, quarterly and annually (archived here).

Packages also include 20 other allowances to cover fuel and vehicle maintenance, a personal assistant, domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, and a wardrobe, among other things.

The annual basic salary of a senator is 2,026,400 naira (around $1,300) while that of a member of the House of Representatives is 1,985,212 naira. 

The last time the remuneration package for politicians was updated was in 2007. However, there have been controversies and public debate over what the RMAFC recommended and what the lawmakers actually earn (archived here). 

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